Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, in a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., urged key Members of Congress and Obama Administration officials to ensure the coming Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line will deliver first-rate service to Los Angeles rail commuters while maximizing benefits to Crenshaw corridor communities. The line will also provide a long-overdue rail connection to Los Angeles International Airport.
Ridley-Thomas met with key members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, both Democrats and Republicans, to discuss potential federal funding sources.
“I was pleasantly surprised to find there is no partisan divide over the need for a rail line to LAX. Both Republicans and Democrats told me that the nation’s second-largest city needs such a connection to call itself a first-rate city,” Ridley-Thomas said.
Ridley-Thomas is leading a drive for additional funding for the $1.4 billion project, while also working with Los Angeles Metro to find ways to cut project costs. He currently has a motion before the Metro Board of Directors to add a Leimert Park Village station to the line. The motion also calls for the train to run underground through Park Mesa Heights, which would speed travel time and avoid the potential disruptions of a street-level train to local businesses and neighbors.
“Money, or the lack of it, is not an excuse to build a cut-rate rail line,” Ridley-Thomas said. “In the past, we were told there was only money for a bus line. We rejected that, and now we have a rail line,” he said.
“When there is a will there is a way. We have shown our allies in Washington we have the will, and they can show us –as they have in the past– there is a way,” Ridley-Thomas said.
In addition to Second District-area Congressional Members Karen Bass, Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson Ridley-Thomas also spoke about the rail project with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica(R-Florida), and committee members Jimmy Duncan, Jr. (R-Tennessee), Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and Jeff Denham (R-Atwater).
Ridley-Thomas also met with Federal Aviation Administration officials to explore potential cost savings for a portion of the rail line that runs through LAX. By modifying the current construction plan, tens of millions of dollars could possibly be saved.
The Crenshaw/LAX rail line will travel 8.5 miles from the new Expo rail line south to the Green Line. It is scheduled to start service in 2016.
Along with his push for rail funding, Ridley-Thomas also visited two innovative Washington, D.C. public schools. He toured the Maya Angelou Academy, located in Washington, D.C.’s juvenile custody facility, the New Beginnings Youth Development Center. He also visited SEED School of Washington, D.C., a public boarding school that sends close to 100% of its graduates to college.
Ridley-Thomas travelled to Washington with Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich, Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky and several County officials including Sheriff Lee Baca. As a group, they lobbied Members of Congress against funding cuts to Medicaid as well as cuts to the federal obligations to fund the jail costs of illegal immigrants.